Hepatitis A is a disease caused by the hepatitis A
virus that results in inflammation of the liver.
Formerly, hepatitis A was called infectious hepatitis.
In children the disease is usually mild, but most
adults who develop hepatitis are sick enough to miss
four to six weeks of work.
Who gets hepatitis A?
Anyone can get hepatitis A.
How is the virus spread?
The hepatitis A virus is found in the feces (stool) of
infected persons and is usually spread by the fecaloral
Hepatitis A may be spread by food prepared or handled by an infected person who does
not wash his/her hands carefully.
Hepatitis A may
be spread by water contaminated with human feces
or by consumption of raw oysters.
It may also be
spread by close intimate contact (household or
sexual) and by changing the diaper of an infected
What are the symptoms of hepatitis A?
The first symptoms are usually:
usually followed by dark colored urine and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes).
general, the severity of illness increases with age and
children under age three may not have symptoms,
though they can still spread the infection.
people feel better after one to two weeks, but may
continue to feel tired for a few more weeks.
How soon do symptoms appear?
Usually the first symptoms appear at about one
month, but can develop anytime between two and
six weeks after exposure to the virus.
How long can an infected person spread the
People are most infectious in the two weeks before
their symptoms appear and remain somewhat
infectious about one week after jaundice.
Can a person get hepatitis A again?
After one infection with hepatitis A, a person cannot
get it again. However, there are different types of
viral hepatitis, and infection with hepatitis A will not protect against other types of hepatitis.
What is the treatment for hepatitis A?
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Bed
rest is generally all that is needed. Infected persons
should also avoid alcohol, drugs, or medicines (including aspirin and Tylenol), without checking
with a doctor.
What should I do if I was exposed to hepatitis A?
If you were recently exposed to Hepatitis A virus and have not been vaccinated against Hepatitis A, you might benefit from an injection of either immune globulin or Hepatitis A vaccine. However, the vaccine or immune globulin must be given within the first 2 weeks after exposure to be effective. A health professional can decide what is best on the basis of your age and overall health.
How can the spread of hepatitis A be stopped?
The spread of hepatitis A can be stopped by always
washing hands thoroughly after using the toilet or
changing a diaper.
Children should be taught to
wash their hands with soap and warm water after
using the toilet.
Washing hands before preparing
food is very important.
Hepatitis A vaccine is now available in the U.S. for
persons 2 years of age or older.
To be fully immunized, a person needs a second injection of
vaccine 6 to 12 months after the first injection.
vaccine is recommended for anyone traveling to an
Persons who eat out frequently,
children who attend childcare centers, or people who
engage in high-risk activities should consider
immunization for hepatitis A.
County food handlers and child care workers are required to be immunized against
Where can I get more information?
Contact your doctor or the Southern Nevada Health District, Office of Epidemiology at (702) 759-1300.